Former Lake County softballer takes Iowa by Storm
It wasn't easy for Kaleigh Snyder to leave Lake County to play softball in Iowa -- no matter how easy she makes it look.
After excellent stints at Grayslake Central High School and the College of Lake County (CLC), Snyder is showing her diamond prowess at Simpson College in Indianola, Iowa.
As of March 18, according to Simpson's website, the junior outfielder led the Storm with a .315 batting average, 12 runs scored, 17 hits and 11 stolen bases in their first 18 games.
Clearly, Snyder has made an impressive showing in her first long-term play outside of Lake County, but she said it was a struggle to adjust.
“The move to Simpson was difficult at first -- learning how to adjust being that far from home, since I am very close with my family,” Snyder said in an email interview with the Lake County Gazette. “But after getting involved with classes, softball, and campus life, I was able to adjust quickly and can now call Simpson my second home.”
Growing up, Snyrder was at home on softball fields throughout Northern Illinois, playing every weekend in the summers, she said. That was an extension of her early days of playing T-ball on an all-boys team in the Grayslake Park District.
“I kept up with the boys in those two seasons, and then moved on to fast-pitch softball,” she said.
Snyder developed an affection for softball on the field and off.
“I love the game of softball because it is a difficult, fast-paced, strategic game," she said. "I love all the aspects, including hitting, fielding and running bases. Softball is my go-to hobby when I need something to do besides school and work.”
Her standout career at Grayslake Central led to her signing with CLC for two seasons. In her last season as a Lancer in the 2016 campaign, Snyder batted .487 with a .572 on-base percentage, which ranked No. 16 in Division II of the National Junior College Athletic Association, according to the NJCAA website. She also was No. 2 in triples with 12 and 18th in walks with 28, en route to earning All-Illinois Skyway Conference honors.
Looking for a new place to play once her CLC eligibility ended after her sophomore year, Snyder talked with Simpson head coach Brent Matthias, visited the campus and “fell in love” with it. She liked the smaller size of the campus and classes, and the fact that the school had a physical education major as well as a minor in coaching, with endorsements in health and special education.
Snyder said her goal is to coach in high school, but she also wants to be involved with the Special Olympics softball program.
Moving to Simpson has made Snyder better all around, she said.
“With the help of my coaches and teammates, I have been able to improve on my fundamental skills along with my appreciation of the game,” she said. “But I have also improved as a person on and off the field. My coach's philosophy is, Simpson College softball develops three types of champions: As a team, we want championship people who are championship teammates who wants to learn championship life skills.”